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BEETHOVEN'S INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC 

Translated from E. T. A. Hoffmann's Kreisleriana 
with an introductory note 

By ARTHUR WARE LOCKE. 

Introductory Note 

ET. A. HOFFMANN is an important figure in the back- 
ground of musical history of whom we have gradually lost 
* sight in spite of his significant relationship to the course of 
musical events and to those greater creative personalities by whom 
he was overshadowed. Hoffmann is known today chiefly for the 
part he took in the German literary movement of the first quarter 
of the nineteenth century. He also has a small place in the history 
of musical composition as the composer of the opera Undine, 
which had a successful run in Berlin in 1816. But his importance 
in the history of music does not come from the value of his num- 
erous musical compositions which, curiously enough, coming from 
such a professedly radical romanticist in matters of music, follow 
the conservative methods of Spontini rather than the more 
progressive romantic style of Weber. Hoffmann did, however, 
exert a powerful influence on composers, critics, and the musical 
public through his literary writings in which he emphasized 
what at that time had little recognition in musical criticism, the 
romantic interpretation of music. 

Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann was born at Konigsberg 
in 1776, six years after Beethoven was born, and died in Berlin 
in 1822, five years before Beethoven's death. He changed the 
Wilhelm in his name to Amadeus as a testimony to his enthusiasm 
for the works of Mozart. Trained to be a lawyer but possessing 
unusual gifts for both music and drawing, his life was one long 
vacillation between the sober career of a Kammer-Gerichts-Rath 
and the bohemian existence of a romantic artist. During the 
last years of his life in Berlin this romantic, dualism of his nature 
expressed itself in days spent over ledgers and police records which 
he kept with exemplary conscientiousness and nights spent in the 
most fantastic revelries at Luther and Wegener's Weinhaus. 

123 



124 The Musical Quarterly 

In 1803, Hoffmann was serving as a district attorney at 
Warsaw, which had been ceded to Prussia in 1795. In a letter 
to a friend, he wrote, " — a gay world, full of magic visions, 
shimmers and flickers about me — it seems as if something great 
must soon come of it — some kind of an artistic creation must 
appear out of the chaos! — whether it will be a book — an opera — 
a painting — quod diis placebit. . . " and in his diary he writes, 
"Was I born to be a painter or a musician? I must put the 
question to the president of the senate or the prime minister; 
they would know!" As a matter of fact, at this time in Warsaw 
Hoffmann seemed to be making a highly successful combined use 
of his varied talents. Besides satisfactorily and faithfully per- 
forming his official legal duties, he conducted orchestral concerts 
in a newly opened concert-hall which he had helped to plan and 
on the interior decoration of which he had demonstrated his 
skill as a painter. His friend Hitzig wrote of his success as a 
conductor : 

His tempi were fiery and fast but without exaggeration, and people 
used to say afterward that if he had been able to show what he could 
do with a good orchestra, it would not have been easy to find a conductor 
to surpass him in the interpretation of Mozart. He had already at that 
time brought out a Beethoven symphony (Eroica?) for which he was 
filled with admiration. 

Partly as a result of some caricatures which he had drawn 
of his superiors, Hoffmann lost his government position and took 
up music as a profession. It was in 1809 and 1810 while he was 
eking out a bare existence as musical director at the theatre at 
Bamberg that the first of his Kreisleriana papers appeared in 
the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung at Leipzig. These with other 
fantastical musical essays were published in book form at Bamberg 
in 1814, and it is from this time that Hoffmann's literary career 
really dates. His fame as a teller of weird stories spread through 
numerous translations into other countries, particularly into 
France. Balzac, Theophile Gautier, Gerard de Nerval, and 
George Sand extolled him, and his praises were sung in verse by 
Alfred de Musset in Namouna in 1833. Carlyle helped to introduce 
him to English readers by translating Der goldne Topf. In some 
ways the weird fancifulness of his style may be compared to the 
style of Edgar Allan Poe, though W. C. Brownell in his American 
Prose Writers considers Hoffmann more human than Poe. Scott 
in an essay On the Supernatural in Fictitious Compositions 1 spoke 

'The Foreign Quarterly Review. No. 1. July, 1827. 



Beethoven's Instrumental Music 125 

of Hoffmann's stories as the feverish dreams of a diseased brain, 
comparing them to the visions which are produced by the im- 
moderate use of opium and concluding that they were the result 
of the condition of Hoffmann's broken-down physique. But Scott 
lacked the sense for the weird and the supernatural which was 
such a characteristic element in the romantic imagination. 
Hoffmann's use of the supernatural was, like Coleridge's, the 
result of the exaltation of the imagination over the intellect and 
falls directly in line with his romantic interpretation of music 
as shown in the essay on Beethoven's Instrumental Music. 

The full title of the two volumes published in Bamberg in 
1814 is: Fantasiestiiche in Callot's 1 Manier. Blatter aus dem 
Tagebuche eines reisenden Enthusiasten. Mit einer Vorrede von 
Jean Paul. Among the contents is a ghost story about Gluck 
containing a description of the overture to Iphigenia in Aulis 
and a fantastic dream picture of a performance of Mozart's 
Don Juan. There are six essays under the general title Kreis- 
leriana of which Beethoven's Instrumental Musih is No. 4. The 
name Kreisleriana comes from the weird figure of the Kapell- 
meister Johannes Kreisler around whom the subject matter 
centers. It is not known why Hoffmann chose the name Kreisler. 
The description of his character — a struggling musician at odds 
with the world, ranting against the philistinism of musical society 
and rhapsodizing about his art — is obviously autobiographical. 2 

The essay on Beethoven's Instrumental Music is important as 
a contemporary criticism of Beethoven and as a demonstration 
of the growing tendency in music towards the romantic as opposed 
to the classic point-of-view. As an appreciation of the Fifth 
Symphony this essay is very remarkable when contrasted with 
the contemporary criticism which considered the Third and 
Fifth Symphonies as a falling off from the First and the Second. 
Philip Spitta has said: 

Hidden in the Kreisleriana there is a power of extraordinary force 
which has permeated all the writing about music during the century. 
The pictures of the three great Austrian instrumental composers which 
Hoffmann has drawn and placed next to one another are conceived 
with such deep-seeing musical insight and portrayed with such successful 

'Jacques Callot, celebrated French etcher, engraver, and caricaturist (1592- 
1635). 

2 Sir George Grove in his Dictionary in an article on Jacob BShner gives this man 
the credit of being the original from whom Hoffmann drew the portrait of Kreisler. 
Dr. Edgar Istel in the recent Reclam edition of the Kreisleriana does not mention 
BOhner. It is more likely that the character is drawn principally from Hoffmann's 
own experiences. 



126 The Musical Quarterly 

poetic power that they are as effective to-day as when Hoffmann sketched 
them. 1 

Hoffmann's appreciation of the imaginative qualities in music 
made a strong appeal to those composers who were striving not 
so much to get away from classical forms as to make music more 
personal and more poetically suggestive. In 1820, Beethoven sent 
Hoffmann his greeting in these words: 

I am aware that you interest yourself in my work. Allow me to 
say that it pleases me very much coming from a man gifted with such 
exceptional talents as you: I wish you all that is beautiful and good. 

Schumann in his youth immersed himself in the imaginative, 
eccentric world of Jean Paul and Hoffmann, who, indeed, got 
many of his ideas from Jean Paul. Just as the Papillons is a 
reflection of Schumann's enthusiasm for Jean Paul's novel Die 
Flegeljahre, the Kreisleriana and the titles of some of Schumann's 
other pieces such as Nachtstucke and Fantasiestiicke testify to his 
reading of Hoffmann's writings. The general character of Schu- 
mann's Kreisleriana suggests admirably the rhapsodic outpourings 
of the Kapellmeister Kreisler of Hoffmann's sketches. 

Hoffmann was one of the earliest writers to influence Wagner. 
As early as 1827, Hoffmann's stories with their background of 
Dresden life fascinated Wagner, and they continued to attract 
him all through his life because they took him back to the time 
when he was a struggling artist among the familiar scenes of city 
life which Hoffmann described. As remarkable as was Wagner's 
appreciation of Beethoven's genius, Ernest Newman in his recent 
book on Wagner as Man and Artist reluctantly admits that 
Wagner was stimulated in his worship of Beethoven by Hoffmann. 
It can be shown that Hoffmann also anticipated many other of 
Wagner's ideas on art. 

The essay on Beethoven's Instrumental Music is a revision of 
an article by Hoffmann in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung 
(xii. Jahrgang, No. 40, July 4, 1810) on the Beethoven Fifth 
Symphony and the Trios, Op. 70, which had been published the 
year before by Breitkopf and Hartel. The essay as it now stands 
was first published in 1813 in the Zeitung fur die elegante Welt 
in Leipzig and afterwards reprinted in the Fantaisiestiicke in 
Callot's Manier when the collected Kreisleriana and other essays 
were published together for the first time. 

•Deutsche Rundschau, Dec, 1892, Vber Robert Schumann* Schrift. 



Beethoven's Instrumental Music 127 

BEETHOVEN'S INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC 

FROM 

E. T. A. HOFFMANN'S "KREISLERIANA" 

When we speak of music as an independent art, we should properly 
refer only to instrumental music which, scorning the assistance and 
association of another art, namely poetry, expresses that peculiar property 
which can be found in music only. It is the most romantic of all the 
arts, one might almost say the only really romantic art, for its sole 
object is the expression of the infinite. The lyre of Orpheus opens 
the doors of Orkus. Music discloses to man an unknown kingdom, a 
world having nothing in common with the external sensual world which 
surrounds him and in which he leaves behind him all definite feelings in 
order to abandon himself to an inexpressible longing. 

Have you even suspected this peculiar power of music, you pitiable 
instrumental composers who have taken such anxious pains to portray 
definite emotions, yes, even actual occurrences? How could you possibly 
conceive of using plastically that art which is just the opposite of sculp- 
ture? Your sunrises, your thunderstorms, your Batailles des trois 
Empereurs, etc., were nothing but ridiculous aberrations and have been 
deservedly punished by absolute oblivion. 

In song, where the words of the poem indicate definite effects, 
the magic power of music operates like that wonderful elixir of the 
sages, a few drops of which make every drink more exquisite and more 
delicious. The passions which are portrayed in opera — love, hate, 
anger, doubt — are clothed by music in the purple glow of romanticism, 
and the very experiences of life lead us out of life into the realm of the 
infinite. 

The ever-increasing magic power of music rends asunder the bonds 
of the other arts. 

That inspired composers have raised instrumental music to its 
present height is certainly not due to the improvement in the medium 
of expression, the perfecting of the instruments or the greater virtuosity 
of the performers, but comes rather from the deeper spiritual recognition 
of the peculiar nature of music. 

Mozart and Haydn, the creators of the instrumental music of 
to-day, show us the art for the first time in its full glory; the one who has 
looked on it with an all-embracing love and penetrated its innermost 
being is — Beethoven! The instrumental compositions of all three 
masters breathe the same romantic spirit, which lies in a similar deep 
understanding of the essential property of the art; there is nevertheless 
a decided difference in the character of their compositions. The ex- 
pression of a child-like joyous spirit predominates in those of Haydn. 
His symphonies lead us through boundless green woods, among a merry 
gay crowd of happy people. Young men and maidens pass by dancing; 
laughing children peeping from behind trees and rose-bushes playfully 
throw flowers at one another. A life full of love, of felicity, eternally 
young, as before the fall; no suffering, no sorrow, only a sweet melancholy 
longing for the beloved form that floats in the distance in the glow of 
the sunset, neither approaching nor vanishing, and as long as it is there 



128 The Musical Quarterly 

night will not come for it is itself the evening glow which shines over 
mountain and wood. 

Mozart leads us into the depths of the spirit world. We are seized 
by a sort of gentle fear which is really only the presentiment of the 
infinite. Love and melancholy sound in the pure spirit voices; night 
vanishes in a bright purple glow and with inexpressible longing we follow 
the forms which, with friendly gestures, invite us into their ranks as 
they fly through the clouds in the never-ending dance of the spheres. 
(Mozart's Symphony in E flat Major known as "The Swan Song.") 

In the same way Beethoven's instrumental music discloses to us 
the realm of the tragic and the illimitable. Glowing beams pierce the 
deep night of this realm and we are conscious of gigantic shadows which, 
alternately increasing and decreasing, close in on us nearer and nearer, 
destroying us but not destroying the pain of endless longing in which 
is engulfed and lost every passion aroused by the exulting sounds. 
And only through this very pain in which love, hope, and joy, consumed 
but not destroyed, burst forth from our hearts in the deep-voiced harmony 
of all the passions, do we go on living and become hypnotised seers of 
visions ! 

An appreciation of romantic qualities in art is uncommon; romantic 
talent is still rarer. Consequently there are few indeed who are able 
to play on that lyre the tones of which unfold the wonderful region 
of romanticism. 

Haydn conceives romantically that which is distinctly human in 
the life of man; he is, in so far, more comprehensible to the majority. 

Mozart grasps more the superhuman, the miraculous, which dwells 
in the imagination. 

Beethoven's music stirs the mists of fear, of horror, of terror, of 
grief, and awakens that endless longing which is the very essence of 
romanticism. He is consequently a purely romantic composer, and is 
it not possible that for this very reason he is less successful in vocal music 
which does not surrender itself to the characterization of indefinite 
emotions but portrays effects specified by the words rather than those 
indefinite emotions experienced in the realm of the infinite? 1 

1 Cf. Wagner's Zukunftsmusik: "The ample heritage and promise of both of these 
masters (Haydn and Mozart) was taken up by Beethoven; he matured the Symphonic 
art-work to so engrossing a breadth of form, and filled that form with so manifold 
and enthralling a melodic content, that we stand today before the Beethovenian Sym- 
phony as before the landmark of an entirely new period in the history of universal 
Art; for through it there came into the world a phenomenon not even remotely ap- 
proached by anything the art of any age or any people has to show us. 

In this Symphony instruments speak a language whereof the world at no previous 
time had any knowledge; for here with a hitherto unknown persistence, the purely 
musical Expression enchains the hearer in an inconceivably varied mist of nuances; 
rouses his inmost being, to a degree unreachable by any other art; and in all its change- 
fulness reveals an ordering principle so free and bold, that we can but deem it more 
forcible than any logic, yet without the laws of logic entering into it in the slightest — 
nay rather, the reasoning march of Thought, with its track of causes and effects, here 
finds no sort of foothold. So that this Symphony must positively appear to us a re- 
velation from another world; and in truth it opens out a scheme (Zusammenhang) 
of the world's phenomena quite different from the ordinary logical scheme, and whereof 
one foremost thing is undeniable — that it thrusts home with the most overwhelming 
conviction, and guides our Feeling with such a sureness that the logic-mongering 
Reason is completely routed and disarmed thereby." 

Translation by W. A. Ellis. Wagner's Prose Works. Vol. III. pp. 317-318. 



Beethoven's Instrumental Music 129 

Beethoven's mighty genius oppresses the musical rabble; he excites 
himself in vain before them. But the wiseacres, looking around with 
serious countenances, assure us, and one can believe them as men of 
great understanding and deep insight, that the worthy B. does not lack 
a most abundant and lively imagination; but he does not know how to 
curb it. There can be no discussion of the choice and the formation 
of his ideas, but he scatters the good old rules in disorder whenever it 
happens to please him in the momentary excitement of his creative 
imagination. 

But what if the inner, underlying organic structure of these Beet- 
hoven compositions has escaped your superficial glance? What if the 
trouble is with you, that you do not understand the master's speech, 
intelligible to those to whom it is dedicated? What if the gates to that 
innermost shrine remain closed to you? — In truth, quite on a level 
with Haydn and Mozart as a conscious artist, the Master, separating 
his Ego from the inner realm of sound, takes command of it as an absolute 
monarch. Aesthetic mechanicians have often lamented the absolute 
lack of underlying unity and structure in Shakespeare, while the deeper 
glance could see the beautiful tree with leaves, blossoms, and fruit 
growing from one germinating seed; so it is that only through a very 
deep study of Beethoven's instrumental music is that conscious thought- 
fulness of composition (Besonnenheit) disclosed which always accom- 
panies true genius and is nourished by a study of art. 

What instrumental work of Beethoven testifies to this to a higher 
degree than the immeasurably noble and profound Symphony in C 
minor? How this marvellous composition carries the hearer irresistibly 
with it in its ever-mounting climax into the spirit kingdom of the infinite! 
What could be simpler than the main motive of the first allegro composed 
of a mere rhythmic figure which, beginning in unison, does not even 
indicate the key to the listener. The character of anxious, restless 
longing which this portion carries with it only brings out more clearly 
the melodiousness of the second theme! — It appears as if the breast, 
burdened and oppressed by the premonition of tragedy, of threatening 
annihilation, in gasping tones was struggling with all its strength for 
air; but soon a friendly form draws near and lightens the gruesome 
night. (The lovely theme in G major which is first taken up by the 
horn in E flat Major.) 1 — How simple — let us repeat once more — is the 
theme which the master has made the basis of the whole work, but 
how marvelously all the subordinate themes and bridge passages relate 
themselves rhythmically to it, so that they continually serve to disclose 
more and more the character of the allegro indicated by the leading 
motive. All the themes are short, nearly all consisting of only two or 
three measures, and besides that they are allotted with increasing variety 
first to the wind and then to the stringed instruments. One would think 
that something disjointed and confused would result from such elements; 
but, on the contrary, this very organization of the whole work as well 
as the constant reappearances of the motives and harmonic effects, 
following closely on one another, intensify to the highest degree that 
feeling of inexpressible longing. Aside from the fact that the contrapuntal 
treatment testifies to a thorough study of the art, the connecting links, 

'G Major entrance of the Second Theme in the development section. — Tr. 



130 The Musical Quarterly 

the constant allusions to the main theme, demonstrate how the great 
Master had conceived the whole and planned it with all its emotional 
forces in mind. Does not the lovely theme of the Andante con moto in 
A flat sound like a pure spirit voice which fills our souls with hope and 
comfort ? — But here also that terrible phantom which alarmed and 
possessed our souls in the Allegro instantly steps forth to threaten us 
from the thunderclouds into which it had disappeared, and the friendly 
forms which surrounded us flee quickly before the lightning. What shall 
I say of the Minuet? 1 Notice the originality of the modulations, the 
cadences on the dominant major chord which the bass takes up as the 
tonic of the continuing theme in minor — and the extension of the theme 
itself with the looping on of extra measures. Do you not feel again 
that restless, nameless longing, that premonition of the wonderful 
spirit-world in which the Master holds sway? But like dazzling sunlight 
the splendid theme of the last movement bursts forth in the exulting 
chorus of the full orchestra. — What wonderful contrapuntal interweavings 
bind the whole together. It is possible that it may all sound simply 
like an inspired rhapsody to many, but surely the heart of every sensitive 
listener will be moved deeply and spiritually by a feeling which is none 
other than that nameless premonitory longing; and up to the last chord, 
yes, even in the moment after it is finished, he will not be able to detach 
himself from that wonderful imaginary world where he has been held 
captive by this tonal expression of sorrow and joy. In regard to the 
structure of the themes, their development and instrumentation, and the 
way they are related to one another, everything is worked out from a 
central point-of-view; but it is especially the inner relationship of the 
themes with one another which produces that unity which alone is able 
to hold the listener in one mood. This relationship is often quite obvious 
to the listener when he hears it in the combination of two themes or 
discovers in different themes a common bass, but a more subtle relation- 
ship, not demonstrated in this way, shows itself merely in the spiritual 
connection of one theme with another, and it is exactly this subtle 
relationship of the themes which dominates both allegros and the Minuet 
— and proclaims the self-conscious genius of the Master. 

How deeply, O! exalted Master ! have your noble piano compositions 
penetrated into my soul; how hollow and meaningless in comparison all 
music seems which does not emanate from you, or from the contemplative 
Mozart, or that powerful genius, Sebastian Bach. With what joy I 
received your Opus 70, the two noble trios, for I knew so well that after 
a little practice I could play them to myself so beautifully. And it 
has been such a pleasure to me this evening that now, like one who 
wanders through the sinuous mazes of a fantastic park, among all kinds 
of rare trees, plants, and wonderful flowers, always tempted to wander 
further, I am unable to tear myself away from the marvelous variety 
and interweaving figures of your trios. The pure siren voices of your 
gaily varied and beautiful themes always tempt me on further and 
further. The talented lady who to-day played the first trio so beautifully 
just to please me, the Kapellmeister Kreisler, and before whose piano 
I am now sitting and writing, brought it home to me most clearly that 

■The scherzo movement had no title in the original score. — Tr. 



Beethoven's Instrumental Music 131 

we should honor only that which is inspired and that everything else 
conies from evil. 

Just now I have been playing over from memory some of the 
striking modulatory passages from the two trios. It is true that the 
piano (Fliigel-Pianoforte) 1 as an instrument is more adaptable to har- 
monic than to melodic uses. The most delicate expression of which 
the instrument is capable cannot give to the melody that mobile life 
in thousands and thousands of shadings which the bow of the violinist 
or the breath of the wind-instrument player is capable of giving. The 
player struggles in vain against that unconquerable difficulty set in his 
path by a mechanism which is based on the principle of making a string 
vibrate and sound as the result of percussion. On the other hand there 
is no instrument (with the exception of the much more limited harp) which 
has control to such a degree as the piano, with its completely grasped 
chords, of the kingdom of harmony, the treasures of which it discloses 
to the connoisseur in the most wonderful forms and images. When the 
imagination of the master has conceived the complete tone-picture with 
its many groups of figures, its bright lights and deep shadows, he can 
bring it to life on the piano with the result that it emerges from the 
world of his imagination all brightly coloured. The many-voiced score 
of this truly musical wonder-book, which portrays in its pictures all 
the wonders of the art of music even to the magic chorus of the varied 
instruments, comes to life under the hands of a virtuoso, and an effective 
polyphonic orchestral transcription played in the right way may well 
be compared to the artistic engraving of a great painting. Consequently 
the piano is exceptionally adapted for improvising, for transcribing 
orchestral scores, for unaccompanied sonatas, chord playing, etc.; and 
also for trios, quartets, quintets, etc., with the addition of the usual 
stringed instruments — compositions which really belong to the sphere 
of piano composition because, if composed in the right way, i. e. in four 
or five voices, they are based on harmonic development which naturally 
excludes the solo treatment of separate instruments in virtuoso pas- 
sages. 

I have a strong aversion for all the usual piano concerti. (Those 
of Mozart and Beethoven are not so much concerti as symphonies 
with piano obbligato.) In such works the virtuosity of the solo player 
in passage playing and in melodic expression is supposed to be brought 
out; but the best player with the most beautiful instrument strives in 
vain for that which the violinist, for example, achieves with ease. Each 
solo passage sounds dry and lifeless after the sonorous tuttis of the vio- 
lins and wind-instruments; and one is amazed at the finger agility, etc., 
without having one's feelings at all stirred. 

How wonderfully the Master understood the characteristic spirit 
of the instrument and consequently handled it in its most appropriate 
manner ! 

At the bottom of each movement there lies an effective singable 
theme, simple but fruitful of all the various contrapuntal developments, 
such as diminution, etc. All the other secondary themes and figures 
are organically related to this principal idea so that all the material 

'The newly invented " Hammerklavier." — Tr. 



132 The Musical Quarterly 

divided among the different instruments is combined and ordered in 
the most complete unity. Such is the structure of the whole; but in 
this artistic structure the most wonderful pictures, in which joy and 
sorrow, melancholy and ecstacy, appear side by side, change in restless 
succession. Strange shapes begin a merry dance, now dissolving in a 
blur of light, now sparkling and flashing as they separate, chasing and 
following one another in kaleidoscopic groups; and in the midst of this 
unlocked spirit-world the ravished soul listens to the unknown language 
and understands all those mysterious premonitions by which it is 
possessed. 

Only that composer penetrates truly into the secrets of harmony 
who is able to stir the soul of man through harmony; to him, the mathe- 
matical proportions which to the grammarian without genius are only 
dry arithmetical problems, are magic combinations from which he can 
build a world of visions. 

In spite of the geniality which predominates in the first trio, not 
excepting the emotional Largo, Beethoven's genius, as a whole, remains 
serious and religious in spirit. It seems as if the Master thought that 
one could not speak of deeply-hidden things in common words but 
only in sublime and noble language, even when the spirit, closely pene- 
trating into these things, feels itself exalted with joy and happiness; 
the dance of the priests of Isis must take the form of an exultant 
hymn. 

Instrumental music must avoid all senseless joking and triviality, 
especially where it is intended to be taken as absolute music and not 
to serve some definite dramatic purpose. It explores the depths of the 
soul for the presentiments of a joy which, nobler and more beautiful 
than anything experienced in this narrow world, comes to us from the 
unknown land; it inflames in our breasts an inner, rapturous life, a more 
intense expression than is possible through words, which are appropriate 
only to our limited earthly feelings. This seriousness of all Beethoven's 
instrumental and piano music proscribes all those breakneck passages 
for both hands up and down the piano, the curious leaps, the laughable 
capriccios, the skyscraper notes with five and six ledger line foundations, 
with which the latest piano compositions are filled. If it is a question 
of mere finger facility, the Master's piano compositions are not difficult, 
for such scales, trill figures, etc., as are found in them should be in the 
fingers of every practiced pianist; and yet the performance of these 
compositions is certainly difficult. Many a so-called virtuoso condemns 
the Master's piano compositions adding to the criticism, "Difficult," 
the reproach, "and most ineffective!" — The difficulty lies in this, that 
the proper, unforced, performance of a Beethoven work requires nothing 
less than that one shall thoroughly understand it, shall penetrate into 
its deepest being, that the performer conscious of his own consecration 
to his purpose must dare boldly to enter into the circle of mystical 
visions which its powerful magic calls forth. He who does not feel this 
consecration, who only considers this sacred music as an entertainment, 
as something to pass the time when there is nothing else to do, as a 
mere temporary sensuous pleasure for dull ears, or for the benefit of 
showing himself off — he should leave this music alone. Such a one 
sympathizes with that criticism: "And most ineffective!" The genuine 



Beethoven's Instrumental Music 133 

artist throws himself into the work, which he first comprehends from 
the point-of-view of the composer, and then interprets. He scorns the 
exploitation of his personality in any way whatever, and all his poetic 
imagination and intellectual understanding are bent towards the object 
of calling forth into active life, with all the brilliant colors at his command, 
the noble and enchanting images and visions which the Master with 
magic power has shut up in his work, that they may surround mankind 
in bright, sparkling rings and, enflaming his fancy and his innermost 
feelings, carry him in wild flights into the distant spirit kingdom of 
sound.